In 1976 the Hernandez-Macias family sensed a need in Grocio Prado. The community was in dire need of food and a safe place for the children to grow. As many Peruvians do, the Hernandez-Macias family wanted to give thanks to Melchorita Saravia, a beloved good-samaritan of Grocio Prado. They began, along with a staff of volunteers, to provide the much needed food for the children and Monks who served in the Parroquia San Pedro de Grocio Prado church. The Comedor was originally housed in an additional area of the church.
Several years ago the Hernandez family built a new building for the Comedor and we now have this beautiful building dedicated to the memory of Melchorita Saravia, who worked tirelessly to feed and comfort Chinchana's down trodden.
As we opened our new doors, we also began to see more clearly the needs of the community. Now, our primary goals also include the development of programs and activities that help children build self-esteem and self-worth.
The mission of the Comedor is to nourish the bodies and minds of the children and families of Grocio Prado through nutrition, education, and information. While the needs of Grocio Prado grow we must keep in mind some of the damaging practices that have become habitual and custom in the culture. We firmly believe these practices must be addressed. Whether the practices include systematic and continuous school absences and drop-outs, abuse of women and children, a lack of creative arts within the schools, an absence of the use of technology as a tool for personal and economic growth, or lack of empowerment of women to lead full and productive lives, they must all be confronted in a timely and culturally sensitive manner.
Our Family here at the Comedor De Melchorita Saravia is made-up of our amazing volunteers, staff, and our beautiful families!
A Few Volunteers
Meshan came to us in the spring of 2015 from Washington DC, US and generously shared her knowledge of health and first aid, which she obtained through her work as an emergency medical technician. She also taught classes on culture around the world and helped lead Chicas Bemelsa.
Laura arrived in the Spring of 2015 all the way from Rome, Italy and will be here for three months. She loves to works with kids of all ages and teaches teach art, theatre, reading, computation, and more. Laura is a Spanish teacher in Italy and we are so please to have her on our team.
Maggie arrived in July of 2015 from Seattle, USA. She is currently teaching geography, physical education, English, and biology to students of all ages. She will stay with us for four months before continuing her travels in South America.
Edith is from California, USA, and she speaks Spanish because of her Mexican origins. She would like to teach Literature, English, Music, andlots more with all her kids
Señor Vicente is our night guard. He has been sleeping here for over 3 years, making sure our building and our volunteers are safe at night. Vicente and Señora Maria and their family have been amazing supporters of the mission of the Comedor, willing to do whatever it takes to make life better for our children and adults.
Señora Selene is both our director and social worker. Her job is pivitol to the function of both Bemelsa and the families it serves. She keeps tabs on all of our families, making sure their needs are met and the children are in school, fed, and prepared to learn and make progress towards a healthy and happy life.
Our program is dependent on volunteers, as it is a not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization. We are fortunate that people from all over the world and all walks of life are willing to come and help our children succeed. Opportunities here can range from working with our social worker to conduct home visits to creating programs to help with the daily operations of our center, to helping us raise funds to keep our organization going.
There are currently two volunteers here at Bemelsa: Laura (Italy) and Maggie (US).
Some of our lovely past volunteers
Andrea came from Romania and coordinated the volunteers along with working with our youngest students. She also taught a popular workshop on Geography.
Paul was a trained social worker from Kentucky, USA. He taught math classes, computer classes and he even brought his keyboard to teach kids how to play the piano!
Jessica came from the USA. She joined us after finishing her master degree in Social Work in Cleveland, Ohio. She taught our kids art classes, confidence classes and English. She was also our librarian taking care of all the donated books.
Alana was a Peace Corp Volunteer. She has taught English classes, dance classes, business computer courses, and worked with artisans and community members in different capacities.
Jose Carlos was our Computer teacher. He volunteered to teach a morning class 2 mornings a week and also teached an evening class. His classes were very popular!
Miranda was our first Science Teacher!She has started a successful afterschool science class for kids of the comedor. She also started our very first music class where she teached basic music concepts on recorders.
Nicole is a volunteer that came to us from Arizona in May 2011. Her main projects were a support group for mothers of the comedor and working closely with the development of our Chicas Bemelsas group.
Aaron came to us from Spain and was responsible for our math classes and tutoring. He also continued our theater classes and has three computer classes a week. Aaron is a passionate photograrpher and did some awesome pictures for our organization.
Ena started volunteering for us in November 2010. Ena has an amazing amount of energy and started teaching dance clases and art classes. In 2011 Ena came back and was our co-director until 2012.
After School Tutoring:
We offer our participants more than 20 hours a week of help with their homework and the opportunity to learn new skills such as English, computation, communication, and math. This is all made possible by our volunteers who come to Peru to give their time, love, and dedication, all to better our little community.
Creative and emotional development activities:
With dance, music, theatre, recycling art, painting, sports and many other activities that makes us dream, play, desire, and concentrate, the volunteers give the children and youth space to strengthen their self-esteem, identity, and teamwork. These important developments are the reason the arts have a final show at the end of each cycle; the participants can show the fruit of their efforts and talents.
Circulos de Confianza (Trust Circles):
We offer weekly Trust Circles for girls, boys, and mothers to talk about specific issues that need to be discussed in confidence and with guidance. These Circles aid the participants in getting to know eachother and themselves more thoroughly in a constructive environment. We believe that it is a necesity to grow in spirit and mind as we age, by instilling this concept in our participants, it empowers them to constantly strive to realize their potential in all walks of life.
We offer many more after school activities every week such as Theater, Math, Arts, Computation, Grammar, Dance.